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Grappling refers to techniques, maneuvers, and counters applied to an opponent in order to gain a physical advantage, such as improving relative position, escaping, submitting, or injury to the opponent. Grappling is a general term that covers techniques used in many disciplines, styles and martial arts that are practiced both as combat sports and for self defense. Grappling does not include striking or most commonly the use of weapons. However some fighting styles or martial arts known especially for their grappling techniques teach tactics that include strikes and weapons either alongside grappling or combined with it.
The degree to which grappling is utilized in different fighting systems varies. Some systems, such as amateur wrestling, submission wrestling, judo, sumo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu are exclusively grappling arts and do not allow striking.
Grappling is used often in most martial arts and combat sports; boxing and kickboxing however do not use grappling, usually for the sake of focusing on other aspects of combat such as punching, kicking or mêlée weapons. Opponents in these types of matches, however, still grapple with each other occasionally when fatigued or in pain; when this occurs, the referee will step in and restart the match, sometimes giving a warning to one or both of the fighters. Examples of these include boxing, kickboxing, taekwondo, karate, and fencing. While prolonged grappling in muay Thai will result in a separation of the competitors, the art extensively uses the clinch hold known as a double collar tie.
Grappling techniques and defenses to grappling techniques are also considered important in self-defense applications and in law enforcement. The most common grappling techniques taught for self-defense are escapes from holds and application of pain compliance techniques.
Grappling can be trained for self-defense, sport, and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition.
Stand-up grappling is arguably an integral part of all grappling and clinch fighting arts, considering that two combatants generally start fighting from a stand-up position. The aim of stand-up grappling varies according to the martial arts or combat sports in question. Defensive stand-up grappling concerns itself with pain-compliance holds and escapes from possible grappling holds applied by an opponent, while offensive grappling techniques include submission holds, trapping, takedowns and throws, all of which can be used to inflict serious damage, or to move the fight to the ground. Stand-up grappling can also be used both offensively and defensively simultaneously with striking, either to trap an opponents arms while striking as in Wing Chun, prevent the opponent from obtaining sufficient distance to strike effectively, or to bring the opponent close to apply, for instance, knee strikes such as in Muay Thai.
In combat sports, stand-up grappling usually revolves around successful takedowns and throws. In some sports such as glima, the fight is over once one of the opponents has fallen down. In others MMA, the fight may continue on the ground.
Ground grappling refers to all the grappling techniques that are applied while the grapplers are no longer in a standing position. A large part of most martial arts and combat sports which feature ground grappling is positioning and obtaining a dominant position. A dominant position (usually on top) allows the dominant grappler a variety of options, including: attempting to escape by standing up, obtaining a pin or hold-down to control and exhaust the opponent, executing a submission hold, or striking the opponent. The bottom grappler is, on the other hand, concerned with escaping the situation and improving his position, typically by using a sweep or reversal. In some disciplines, especially those where the guard is used, the bottom grappler may also be able to finish the fight from the bottom by a submission hold.
When unskilled fighters get embroiled in combat, a common reaction is to grab the opponent in an attempt to slow the situation down by holding them still, resulting in an unsystematic struggle that relies on brute force. A skilled fighter, in contrast, can perform takedowns as a way of progressing to a superior position such as a mount or side control, or using clinch holds and ground positions to set up strikes, choke holds, and joint locks. A grappler who has been taken down to the ground can use defensive positions such as the guard, which protects against being mounted or attacked. If a grappler is strong and can utilize leverage well, a takedown or throw itself can be a form of dix; the impact can render an opponent unconscious. On the other hand, grappling also offers the possibility of controlling an opponent without injuring them. For this reason, most police staff receive some training in grappling. Likewise, grappling sports have been devised so that their participants can compete using full physical effort without injuring their opponents.
Grappling is called dumog in Eskrima. The term chin na in Chinese martial arts deals with the use of grappling to achieve submission or incapacitation of the opponent (these may involve the use of acupressure points). Some Chinese martial arts, aikido and some eskrima systems—as well as medieval and Renaissance European martial arts—practice grappling while one or both participants is armed. This practice is significantly more dangerous than unarmed grappling and generally requires a great deal of training.
There are many different regional styles of grappling around the world that are practiced within a limited geographic area or country. Several grappling styles like Sport Judo, Shoot wrestling, Catch wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Sport Sambo and several types of wrestling including Freestyle and Greco-Roman have gained global popularity. Judo, Freestyle Wrestling, and Greco-Roman Wrestling are Olympic Sports while Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Sambo have their own World Championship Competitions. Other known grappling-oriented systems are shuai jiao, malla-yuddha, aikido and hapkido.
In these arts, the object is either to take down and pin the opponent, or to catch the adversary in a specialized chokehold or joint lock which forces him or her to submit and admit defeat or be rendered helpless (unconscious or broken limbs). There are two forms of dress for grappling that dictate pace and style of action: with a jacket, such as a gi or kurtka, and without. The jacket, or "gi", form most often utilizes grips on the cloth to control the opponent's body, while the "no-gi" form emphasizes body control of the torso and head using only the natural holds provided by the body. The use of a jacket is compulsory in judo competition, sambo competition, and most Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition, as well as a variety of folk wrestling styles around the world. Jackets are not used in many forms of wrestling, such as Olympic Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
Grappling techniques are also used in mixed martial arts along with striking techniques. Strikes can be used to set up grappling techniques and vice-versa.
The ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship is the most prestigious full range (takedown, position, and submission inclusive) grappling tournament in the world.
FILA Grappling is a competition format used by FILA. Also called "submission wrestling" or "submission grappling", this discipline and sport consists of controlling the opponent without using striking, in standing position or on the ground after a throw.
The World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, also commonly called the Mundials (Portuguese for "Worlds"), is the most prestigious jacketed full range (takedown, position, and submission inclusive) grappling tournament in the world. The event also hosts a non-jacketed division (no gi), but that sub-event is not as prestigious as ADCC in terms of pure non-jacketed competition.
The North American Grappling Association (NAGA) is an organization started in 1995 that holds Submission Grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments throughout North America and Europe. NAGA is the largest submission grappling association in the world with over 175,000 participants world-wide, including some of the top submission grapplers and MMA fighters in the world. NAGA grappling tournaments consist of gi and no-gi divisions. No-Gi competitors compete under rules drafted by NAGA. Gi competitors compete under standardized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rules.
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